How to get the most out of a post-lockdown refurb

Sort It: There are good reasons for going ahead with your home renovation plans

Quantity surveyor  Patricia Power: ‘This is one of the largest spends you will make in your lifetime, so make sure to put time into getting it right.’ Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Quantity surveyor Patricia Power: ‘This is one of the largest spends you will make in your lifetime, so make sure to put time into getting it right.’ Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

Planning a renovation or extension to your home can be a daunting process at the best of times but, because of the great uncertainty created by the health crisis, it’s even harder to know how to plan and what to expect in terms of building costs. I asked quantity surveyor Patricia Power for her advice on t he best way to budget for a home renovation.

Current building costs
In the last 18 months, we’ve seen building costs rise, creating a lot of uncertainty for anyone trying to budget for a new build or refurbishment. 

“I am seeing general costs for standard ground floor extensions varying from €200-€300 per sq ft, including VAT,” Power says. “For the refurbishment of existing dwellings, the rate ranges from €140-€180 per sq ft, including VAT. All figures include for a turnkey walk-in ready house, ie floor finishes, wall and floor tiling, kitchen and utility units, sanitary ware for bathrooms, fully decorated.”

Items not included would be curtains, blinds, loose furniture and fittings, electrical appliances, TVs etc. “Items you bring to a home to put your stamp on it,” she says.

When calculating the rates, it’s important to note that every project will vary depending on individual circumstances. These include factors outside of the design of the house.

“One house may have full vehicular access to the side or rear of the property to facilitate the delivery of building materials. Another house, however, may only have access through the front door. The latter will be the more expensive build of the two, as the material will have to be delivered to the front and hand-moved through the house.”

Impact of Covid-19 on building costs
Construction sites opened up again on May 18th and it’s still unclear what the full effects will be of the new working guidelines on building projects and building costs.   

“Guidelines are now in place from the Construction Industry Federation for working on building sites. The new working rules will mean reduced numbers working on-site at any one time. This will have an impact on the overall construction programme,” says Power. Director-general of the Construction Industry Federation Tom Parlon recently suggested housebuilding costs could increase by between €10,000 and €15,000 per unit.

At the moment, however, Power doesn’t see any changes to current construction rates. “At present, there is a supply of work, and where there is supply there is price demand, so we will have to wait and see what impact the health crisis has on construction costs in the coming months,” she says.

Expert help
Limiting the number of consultants on a project is one of the ways people look to make savings on a building project. But this is not always the best solution. Hiring the right professionals will help ensure the best value for your money and create savings along the way. 

“Working with a quantity surveyor before you go for planning will help you to figure out if you can afford to build what has been designed, before you get planning permission,” says Power. At that stage of the design process it’s much easier to make changes without incurring additional fees to bring the design back within budget. 

Power estimates any projects valued at more than €200,000 or so should have a quantity surveyor involved. Projects under this range may just require a one-off consultation.

Budget discipline
There is a misconception that all building projects will go over budget, but this really isn’t the case. With proper planning and the right advice, it is possible to finish your project on time and within budget. “Take the time at the start before you go to planning and get a detailed cost plan done,” advises Power.  

People are home more now and can see the tweaks they would like to make

“Ensure all elements of the build are taken into consideration. This is one of the largest spends you will make in your lifetime, so make sure to put time into getting it right. The more informed you are about the costs early on, the less chance there is of surprise and disappointment at a later stage,” says Power. 

When is the right time?
It’s no surprise that many people are confused about whether or not to move forward with their home improvement plans right now. But there are some positives about the current situation. We’ve all become intimately acquainted with our homes and have time to assess what we need. 

Many of us will have revised our priorities and have a much clearer picture of how we want to live in our homes. We’ll also be spending a lot more time at home in the coming months, so if you do need to make changes to your home now is an excellent time to start. 

“People are home more now and can see the tweaks they would like to make. This is the time to start planning for the works, as proper planning takes time,” says Power. And home time is something we all have a lot more of right now.

Denise O’Connor is an architect and design consultant

@optimisedesign 

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